Fungi Associated with Decay in Treated Southern Pine Utility Poles in the Eastern United States


  • Robert A. Zabel
  • Frances F. Lombard
  • C. J. K. Wang
  • Fred Terracina


Decay, soft rot, southern pine, utility poles, creosote, pentachlorophenol, decay patterns, Basidiomycetes, microfungi


Approximately 1,320 fungi were isolated and studied from 246 creosote- or pentachlorophenol-treated southern pine poles in service in the eastern United States. The fungi identified were Basidiomycete decayers, soft rotters, and microfungi. White rot fungi predominated in the 262 Basidiomycete decayers isolated from 180 poles. The major Basidiomycetes isolated by radial position from poles of varying service ages appeared to develop initially in the outer treated zones and were often associated with seasoning checks. Some decay origins, however, appeared to be cases of preinvasion and escapes of preservative treatment. Five species of soft rot fungi comprised nearly 85% of 211 isolates obtained from 131 poles. They were isolated primarily from creosote-treated poles in outer treated zones at the groundline. Dissection analysis of 92 poles indicated that six developmental decay patterns and certain fungi were associated commonly with a pattern. The pole mycoflora isolated was relatively uniform in distribution in the eastern United States. The soft rotters and white rot group of Basidiomycete decayers appear to be a more important component of the treated southern pine pole mycoflora than has been recognized previously.


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